Abstract: A numerical and an empirical method for calculating nonlinear load-settlement curves for shallow foundations on sand are examined and used in a new methodology. Both methods have merits and drawbacks. The drawbacks are overcome by the methodology proposed and verified in the paper. This methodology combines the merits of each method. For this purpose, a modification of the empirical method is proposed that accounts for the finite initial soil stiffness at very small strains. Computer programs with sophisticated nonlinear stress-strain relationships, such as Hardening Soil Small in Plaxis 2D, which are versatile in solving complex foundation problems, can cover strains from very small to large. When the foundation soil is layered, it is proposed to fit such a numerical load-settlement curve against the modified empirical relationship for each sand layer separately. This requires cone penetration tests, measurements of the shear wave velocity, and basic laboratory tests. The methodology is described and applied at two locations where load tests on footings were carried out. At one location there was a top layer of clay, which was also taken into account. The results of the application of the proposed methodology are very good.
Keywords: shallow foundations, settlements, semi-empirical method, soil stiffness, numerical modeling, small strains